We spend so much time on our chairs that sitting is now considered “the new smoking” by health specialists. Because sitting could be inevitable in many cases, why not look for alternatives? After thorough research, we found out that there are many reasons why you should use an exercise ball in office.
Too much sitting has been getting a lot of heat lately. According to new federal research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the data shows that 1 in 4 American adults sit for more than 8 hours a day. This number combined work, home, and commute hours. For many of us working a desk job, though, we know that our office chairs might be the biggest culprits in this equation.
Using exercise balls instead of chairs has been gaining popularity in the last few years. You are technically still sitting, but your body is reacting to this new experience. Some of the few reasons why you should use an exercise ball in office include enhancing one’s core stability, balance, and energy.
Before we get into how exercise balls have been changing the lives of thousands of employees, let’s see why the traditional good ol’ office chairs are getting ditched day after day.
Why Office Chairs Are Bad for Your Health
Office chairs can cause a lot of problems. Here are just a few of them.
We may not notice the effects of sitting at first, but researchers gave their verdict a long time ago. Sitting for an extended time can lead to weight gain and poor circulation. Both are risk factors for heart diseases.
This problem is even more pronounced as we get older. Those who were 45 years or older and sat for 11 or more hours per day had a 40% greater chance of dying within 3 years compared to those who only sat for 4 hours or less per day.
When you’re sitting on a chair, there is increased pressure on your spine. This is either because people tend to slouch when sitting or if a chair is poorly designed.
This position can lead to muscle tension, back pain, soreness, and even compression and damage of the spinal disks and possible injury.
Comfort levels differ depending on the quality of your office chair. If you can’t shell out thousands to have a high-quality or customized chair, you are left with the standard chairs we all came to have and endure at some point in our lives.
As more people have been looking for a solution for this plaguing issue, they found many healthier alternatives. One of these alternatives is throwing away (well, not literally) the office chair and switching it with an exercise ball.
Read Exercise Ball Reviews
Here are a few reasons why you should use an exercise ball in office and what they can do to your body.
5.) Tones Your Core Muscles
As soon as you sit on a stability ball, your back instantly goes into a straight position. When you don’t have the back of your chair to keep you stable, you have to engage your core more to keep your balance.
This can seem like a more challenging task to bear with, but it has proven its positive results. Furthermore, you can also steal a few minutes per day to perform some simple stability ball workouts right at your desk. Don’t underestimate those easy and quick exercises. They can make all the difference in your health!
4.) Improves Your Balance
Remember the first time you rode a skateboard or a surfboard? Sitting on a stability ball for the first time will remind you of those experiences. Your body will be on an unstable surface and is trying to balance itself to prevent you from falling off.
What happens during this mini-workout? You are engaging your muscles in small movements to stay in place and improving your sense of balance one move at a time. A win at all fronts!
3.) Improves Your Posture
Because your body is not stable on an exercise ball, it is forced to balance itself to find the perfect position. When you are feeling at ease on the ball, this is when your spine is more comfortable. Your body will then try to adjust itself to this new position, which forces proper spine alignment.
Add to this the fact that you can’t turn or slouch when sitting on a stability ball. If you want to turn to write something down or take a call, you should reposition yourself completely to keep your back straight. You also can’t rest your arms on the table and slouch. This forces you to keep an optimal position at all times.
Make sure to check our full guide on ways to improve your posture and keep a healthy spine!
2.) Makes You Burn Some Calories and Stretch
In addition to that, you will notice that staying on a stability ball at all times is nearly impossible. This means that you need to frequently get up and move around a bit so that you don’t strain your body. This will inspire you to stretch, either when getting up or on the ball itself.
1.) Makes You Feel More Energized
It is no secret to anyone: keeping your body moving can be the difference between feeling energized and feeling tired. When physical activity is swapped with hours of sitting still, you can bet that your body and mind will feel swamped with exhaustion.
Sitting on a stability ball gives you the best of the two worlds. Even though you are in a sitting position, your body is moving to correct its posture. This means that it is constantly pumping blood to different parts of the body and working your muscles out.
With this increase in blood circulation (and fun!), you will feel more present, stimulated, and motivated to work.
Now that you know how exercise balls are better for you, does it mean that you should ditch your desk chair forever? The answer is no, and here is why.
Are Exercise Balls Enough?
Exercise balls aren’t enough on their own.
Don’t Just Sit. Switch!
Remember: using a stability ball instead of a regular chair isn’t supposed to miraculously fix or prevent all the health problems related to sitting for long hours. While a chair can drag many heart conditions and back issues with it, a stability ball alone isn’t the right replacement.
Instead, people who sit for long hours should try to split their time between the two. Try to switch between the chair and exercise ball every 20 to 30 minutes. Spend some time on your chair then switch to the ball as soon as you feel your back slouching or leg hurting.
Try to organize your desk or working station so that it allows you to jump from another easily. If you are working in an open space or a crowded office and can’t keep both the chair and the exercise ball beside you, try to move one to another room. For example, keep the exercise ball at your desk, and when you want to rest in a regular chair, head to a conference room or an empty work station and use their chair.
There is only one way to improve your health and counter-attack the effects sitting: working out.
There is no way around it. You should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise a week. Regular stretches should become your new best friends, especially if you’re not hitting the gym or performing a physical activity every other day.
Throughout the day, get up from time to time and walk around. If you’re feeling self-conscious, take your walk outside of the office and stretches to an empty corridor or room.
Now that you know how to use your exercise ball, here are are some tips on choosing the right one and caring for it.
How to Choose and Care for Your Office Exercise Ball
Use these tips for your exercise ball.
Choose a Ball That Fits Your Body
While there are many reasons why you should use an exercise ball in office, you should also be careful that it is the right ball for you.
- A 45-centimeter ball if you are under 5 feet tall
- A 55-centimeter ball if you are between 5′ to 5′ 7”
- A 65-centimeter ball if you are over 5’8”
You also need to know if the ball will be high enough for your desk to sit on it. Before shopping for the exercise ball of your dreams and transporting it to your office, measure the height of your desk and try to do a simulation.
If you want to take your mind off this issue, you can go for a hybrid half-chair half-ball seat. They offer the best of the two worlds in a single and simple solution. Read our next article to find out about them.
Take Care of Your Stability Ball
First, check that the ground doesn’t have any sharp objects that could damage the ball. Before using your exercise ball, inspect it for any sign of cut or scratch. This inspection is necessary to avoid having the ball collapse under your weight unexpectedly.
When all is good, inflate it according to the instructions in the product description notice (or check the brand’s website for tutorials).
Keep your stability ball away from any source of heat, including heaters, radiators, and direct sunlight. Don’t forget to keep your ball indoors at all times. Getting it outside can put it at risk of puncture, sunlight, and mishandling.
With all that being said, remember to check with a medical professional or a physiotherapist in case of any doubt. If you have had back problems in the past or are a male above 45 years old or female above 50 years old, consult a physician first.
Now that you know how an exercise ball can make your office life better, you’re all set to introduce one to your workplace! To help you choose the best one for you, we rounded up some of the best exercise balls on the market and provided a full review for each one of them in our next article. Click next to read about them.